Girls of Santa Barbara: It’s time to rock. On Sunday, September 30, at the Lobero Theatre, L.A.-area-based songwriter/producer Sophie Rose will headline Raise Her Voice, a benefit show for Girls Rock S.B. The event will celebrate the work of young female musicians, producers, and artists, with original pieces from mold-breaking souls as young as 9. Group performances and video retrospectives will showcase the program’s broad spectrum of feminine talent, and live screen printing, a silent auction, and outdoor activities will round out the event.
Raise Her Voice is poised to be a loud and clear statement for a changing music industry — one that is increasingly being defined by women. Rose herself is raising her own voice as a way to change the music landscape. Not only a singer/songwriter but a producer in her own right, she has become an empowered exemplar of what female artists are capable of. “I want to make people feel unstoppable,” said the self-styled songstress.
The now-18-year-old shows no signs of stopping; she already has hundreds of songs to her name. One of the very few female producers in the pop-music industry — a 2017 USC Annenberg study found only 2 percent of producers surveyed were female, and only 12.3 percent of songwriters — she’s a living force of industry change. Rose has already worked with some of the top producers and DJs in the pop world. She makes hugely catchy numbers with a fluorescent pop prowess in the likeness of her idol Taylor Swift. She has a dreamily nostalgic new music video, “Two Young Lovers,” cast in hazy Malibu light.
It’s been a slow and steady rise for Rose, who began writing songs at age 9; tunes written years ago are only now hitting the airwaves. “Patience,” she said, has been the biggest lesson — and persistence. “I learned it’s good not to rush into everything and to wait for the right opportunities.” One of her latest songs, “Famous,” marks just how far she’s come. “It’s not really about being famous — it’s the feeling of overcoming things and showing people who didn’t support you, in any career path or life goal, that they were wrong,” she said.
Rose got to know Girls Rock S.B. when she met executive director and founder Jen Baron at the Durango Songwriters Expo. Since then, she’s been a regular performer for and contributor to the program. “Girls Rock makes girls feel supported,” Rose said. “They really provide a safe space for girls to express themselves. It can be hard for young girls in music, especially when older producers or writers are around — it’s intimidating as a girl, not being 100 percent sure of yourself.”
Girls Rock, said Baron, fights off ingrained self-doubt. “At age 7, girls’ self-esteem starts to diminish.” “The younger that you can start building girls up — to form healthy female friendships, to be their most authentic self — the earlier you can save them all this time of being hard on themselves and feeling like they’re in competition with other girls.”
Rose has become a big motivator to the Girls Rockers, bringing her production savvy to camp and reminding them of their capabilities. “To have Sophie come up and say: You guys can totally do this; I produce my songs; you can learn it; anyone can learn it — she’s inspiring them; they’re inspiring her; and everyone’s creating music,” Baron said.
“In this industry, everyone is so jaded, people act like music is just a product,” Rose said. “Seeing these girls, their actual emotional reactions — that’s how I was listening to music when I was their age, and it reminds me what it’s all about.”
Besides Rose’s headlining performance, Raise Her Voice will also feature winners from an audience-voted songwriting competition. Nina Abraham, 9; Katy Caballero, 14; Hadley Julca, 15; Ryann Schaffer, 13; and Bridgette Snyder, 17, will put their ingenuity at center stage along with runners-up. With so many empowered young women sharing their creative voices, it’s the sort of artistic seed that, when planted, could grow a changed world.
Girls Rock presents Raise Her Voice, with a performance by Sophie Rose, on Sunday, September 30, 6 p.m., at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.). Call (805) 963-0761 or see lobero.org.